RIP! Say goodbye to Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding!


Crowds are like the boogieman. They are big  and you never know who they are, or where they are coming from. However unlike the boogieman, crowds are quite popular these days. You can find them in many different shapes and forms, such as crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and even crowdvoting.

Airbnb, a DIY home rental service, recently crowdsourced the world’s first video using Vine. The crowd submitted their entries, for specific storyboard slots, via Twitter using specific hashtags. The entries were judged by a professional movie director, and the best vines were stitched together to create a short film. According to Wired the project had a slow start and could have faired a lot worse it hadn’t been aided by major endorsements and partners. In the end they got by with a little help from their friends, and you can view the final result here:

250xtribal-mediaMany people rely on the crowd to help them create and fund their projects, and many of them fail to gain their support. They rely on the power of the crowd. Whomever that may be. An undefined crowd is like the boogieman. It is a great, big hoax. The social media landscape is only composed of crowds for those that fail to recognize it’s true constituents. The social media landscape is primarily tribal. It consists of lots of people banding together, in tribes, around common passions, like Breaking Bad, cycling, startups or sustainability.

Well, if Airbnb wasn’t crowdsourced, what was it then? Truth be told it was tribesourced! If we examine the identities of the top contributors we find that they are members of various art and designer tribes. Some of them are also members of Vine’s brand tribe. With this in mind, Airbnb could have cut to the chase. While it may be a good thing to make an “open call”, that doesn’t cancel the possibility to directly approach tribal influencers. Actually there is no good excuse not to.

When Memoto crowdfunded their automatic life logging camera on Kickstarter, was it funded by the crowd? It was funded by tribes of lifeloggers, social media nerds, and gadget enthusiasts. While I was deconstructing the spiceologist block, another Kickstarter project, I found that it resonated with the food blogger, and home cooking tribe. It appears that Kickstarter projects are not really crowdfunded, but tribefunded.

While some academics, such as Daren Brabham, recognizes that crowdsourcing involves “online communities”, it’s fair to say that few really dig into tribes. You can find many studies about the demographics of crowdsourcing platforms and projects, but what’s the point? The best way to understand the social structure of the web is not demographics. Traditional markers like age, sex and nationality do not form the social sauce. While you can find demographic trends within tribes, their true reason for being is passion and emotion that many times transcend traditional markers.

shuttleWhatever good intentions people have with the “crowd” thing, it’s turning out to be quite misleading. Projects are not funded and created by crowds, but by tribes. These tribes do not have to be discovered in hindsight, but rather identified, mapped and recruited beforehand. The bulk of any response is by far not going to come from an unidentified crowd, but from a tribe or several of them. Rather than sending a shuttle into the great unknown, and hoping for a signal from an alien crowd, entrepreneurs can craft their appeals specifically for tribes and their influencers.

So, until people really understand that their success hinges on tribes it’s time to say goodbye. It’s time to let go of the fuzziness of crowds, and say hello to the clarity of tribes.

Goodbye crowdfunding!

Goobye crowdsourcing!

Say hello to tribefunding, and tribesourcing..

Posted by In Category Uncategorized

I get this - & to be honest - I agree with most of this. BUT this is so confusing. People are just beginning to get their heads around the crowdfunding concept that was socially constructed to enable the identification of a generic type of funding model and now another socially constructed terminology is expected to be endorsed by the community and used in its place - before we even get to see the real benefits of crowding through longatudinal use of the concept.

There are many dangers to this, just hope we can all see / be aware of them before we add even richer layers of complexity to the issue.

Never-the-less, great article!


@tribaling By chance, someone else shared w/me the Seth Godin TED Talk today also. That really put your post in focus for me.Thx for sharing

tribaling moderator

@minivation Thanks for the warm comment, I _really_ welcome this discussion! I personally believe that social media is predominantly tribal, and that the sooner we learn to understand and leverage that - the better. 

I understand that it is going to be a long and slippery process, but isn't that what learning is about? A conflict between the new and the old? I want this blog to be a part of that process, and I really appreciate people like you that take the time to comment and share, so that we can begin re-negotiating these topics.

I strongly believe that we must do our best, and use the best mental models and methods at our disposal. Anything else would be a mistake. I believe that the idea of 'crowds' has more in common with mass communication and industrialism than how we connect and communicate online (and offline). I do think that the 'crowd' concept can be potentially harmful and limiting to "crowdfunders". I believe that they can run much more effective campaigns by knowing their tribes, and consciously reaching out to them. In essence they will no longer be crowdfunders doing crowdfunding, but tribefunders doing tribefunding. The same applies to tribesourcing and tribal marketing of course.

I really want to stress that everything said here is in good intent, with the interest of making people more successful in their endeavors. I do share that it takes more than a blog post to change the way people think about crowds, but this is my small contribution. I strongly believe that business leaders, marketers and funders neeed to embrace tribalism - today! 

@minivation and @Jerry Silfwer Any thoughts on that?

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer

@minivation I also thought about exactly that concern before posting my comment earlier. I had a lot of the same type of issues when I blogged myself a couple of years back discussing the concept of social media in general; should I just stick with the current flow or ideas or start discussing the implications with the new ideas immediately, risking to confuse a development that's inherently pretty damn good? 

I personally see this post as a thought-leading kind of argument and I personally like that. But to your point, blogger like Elia also has a responsibility not to confuse either, especially since crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are truly amazing concepts.

But maybe we can have it both ways? In our early adopter tribes, we can discuss implications and evolutions, and in our more general tribes try to be very educational and push things forward? Maybe that's naive on my part, but I tend to be rather idealistic at times! :)

Anyway, just wantd to say that I read your comment and thought you made a very valid point!


@jamesinealing that's exactly how it works. We belong to many tribes, and move in and out of them throughout the day :)


@tribaling Compliment accepted! The odd thing is I don't feel part of a tribe, but dip in and out of others' to suit my needs. Disingenuous?